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Family Wedding Photos: How to do Them Right

Marcela Diaz



I'm a New England-based fine art wedding and engagement photographer. With my unwavering commitment, my objective is to skillfully encapsulate the intimate moments that unfold during your wedding day.

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A bride and her mom smile during a family wedding photo. Image overlaid with text that reads Family Wedding Photos: How to do them Right. Photograph by Marcela Plosker, Boston Massachusetts wedding photographer.

Oftentimes, what makes a wedding particularly meaningful and special is getting to celebrate your love story with your family and friends. Therefore, family wedding photos are an essential part of the photos you should have taken on your wedding day. These are the photos that will forever remind you of how much your family loves you and supports you!

Yet, taking family wedding photos can also be stressful. Logistically, there’s a lot of people to manage and a limited amount of time to get all your photos done. After all, you and your family want to get back to celebrating. (Those cocktail hour drinks and horderves are calling everyone’s names!)

So, how do you take family wedding photos so that you still get all the photos you want without it being too stressful or taking way too long? As an experienced Boston wedding photographer, here are my top tips on how to take the best family wedding photos.

#1 – Plan ahead for your family wedding photos

My biggest tip is this: the more you plan ahead for your family wedding photos before your wedding, the smoother it will go on your big day. 

Start by making a list of every family member you want a photo with and different groupings for photos. For example: write down that you want a photo with just you, your parents, and your siblings. If you know your fiancé will want a photo of just him and his brothers, write that down. 

Think about things like: Do you want to have portraits taken with your distant relatives and extended family? Or, do you feel content with just taking casual photos with them during your reception?

(If you need some more inspiration on ideas for this list, keep reading to the end of this article!)

Also, consider who you don’t want to have in your family wedding photos. Maybe one of your siblings has a new boyfriend or girlfriend…do you want this new partner to be in your photographs if things fizzle out between them down the road? Or, do you want to keep it strictly family? Once you’ve decided on these items, communicate. Let your sibling know how you feel: that it’s nothing personal, but this is your preference. That way, your sibling knows what to expect and can let their partner know, too. 

It might seem like overkill to think so deeply into planning your family wedding photos, but it will save so much time when it comes to actually taking the photos. You’ll know exactly who needs to be there, what photos you want to take, and won’t have to worry about confusion/hurt feelings from people being unexpectedly excluded.

#2 – Designate people from your wedding party to help

Once you’ve finalized the list of who you want in your family wedding photos, ask a couple of members from your wedding party to help out when it’s time to take these photos on your big day. If possible, choose people who aren’t actually related to you, or ask close friends who aren’t in your wedding party to help with this.

Give the list of family wedding photos you want to be taken to whoever you designate. It may also be helpful to give them a list of the actual names of all of these family members. Then, on your wedding day, these people can help make sure you don’t miss taking any of these photos with your dear family members!

#3 – Consider the location of your family wedding photos

I typically find that the best family wedding photos are taken outside right after the wedding ceremony. The lighting is often better outdoors, and all of the open space is a major plus!

Big group shots, like family wedding photos, are easier to take in open, outside spaces. Additionally, there’s usually plenty of room for your family members to hang out and wait comfortably to take their photos with you. If you’re going to have any kids in your family portraits, outdoor locations are especially helpful, so that the kids don’t feel too cooped up as they wait their turn for photos.

Bride and groom pose in a family photo with the both sets of parents as an example of family wedding photos and how to do them right. Photograph by Boston, Massachusetts wedding photographer Marcela Plosker.

Plus, the New England area has some gorgeous outdoor spots that will give you the most amazing backdrops for your family wedding photos. Two of my favorite wedding venue locations for this are the steps of the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston (for a classic, urban look) and the fields at the Estate at Moraine Farm in Beverly, Massachusetts (for an elegant, countryside aesthetic). 

Of course, taking your family wedding photos indoors is an option, too. Sometimes, freezing cold or super rainy New England weather means indoor portraits are the only option. In this case, it’s best to have your photos taken in a wide, open space inside your venue with good lighting. As you choose a wedding venue, think about what the weather will be like during the month your wedding will take place. Then, consider whether a potential venue choice has a good space for wedding portraits (including large group shots).

#4 – On your wedding day: stick to the plan!

On your wedding day, the goal is to stick to the plan you made for taking your family wedding photos. Have the members of your wedding party that you designated to help with family photos round up all of your family from your list. Also, have your helpers communicate with the wedding photographer what photos need to be taken and who needs to be in each photo. Make sure your helpers are letting your family members know when it’s their specific turn to be in a photograph.

When taking family wedding photos, it is SO beyond helpful to stick to your list, even down to the order of the photos on the list. That way, your helpers can check off each photo on the list one by one, making sure you didn’t miss or skip any of them. Once again, order and organization is everything! 

#5 – Only the wedding photographer gets to take photos

At the weddings I’ve photographed, I’ve often seen how family members love to take their own photos on their cell phones while we’re taking family wedding photos. Though it is fun for everyone to capture their own photos and candid moments from this portrait time, it can also slow things waaay down. If everyone needs an extra minute to take their own pictures, this takes away from valuable time we could be moving down our list of essential family wedding photos you want taken. 

Asking your family members to limit their cell phone pictures, or maybe even not take any during the family portraits session, can be super helpful. It helps the wedding photographer focus on getting great shots and speeds up the photo-taking process, so you and your family can get back to celebrating ASAP!

BONUS: A list of essential family wedding photos to inspire you

As you plan for your wedding, you may need some inspiration on what to put on your list of family wedding photos. Here’s a list of some of my favorite, essential family wedding photos to add to your list and spark some ideas:

You and your spouse

  • You and your spouse with all sets of parents
  • You and your spouse with each set of parents (or individual parent if divorced)
  • You and your spouse with your immediate families
  • You and your spouse with all siblings (and siblings’ spouses if applicable)
  • You and your spouse with your children (if applicable)

You individually with your family (and then your spouse individually with their family)

  • You and your parents (or stepparents)
  • You with each parent individually
  • You and your immediate family
  • You and your grandparents
  • You with each grandparent individually
  • You and your sibling(s)


  • You and your spouse with your pet(s)
  • Photos with family friends (i.e., friends who feel more like family, people you grew up with, etc.)
  • Generation photos (i.e., your grandma, your mom, and you)
  • Candid and/or funny photos
  • PLUS: don’t forget to ask for candid shots of you and your family throughout the day, including when you’re getting ready, in the ceremony, during the father-daughter dance, etc.

There you go! This list of essential family wedding photos is a thorough start to putting together your very own list for your wedding day. I hope the tips in this post and the list of family wedding photos help and inspire you as you plan for the best day of your life!



P.S. Don’t forget to let me know if you have any other questions about wedding photos for your Boston wedding!

North Shore, Massachusetts and Boston Wedding Photographer Marcela Plosker sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee

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